October 13, 2000

Among the many things to buy at the Atlanta Linux Showcase

Author: JT Smith

By Grant Gross
Managing Editor

Perhaps it is appropriate that the Atlanta Linux Showcase and Conference is being staged on the second floor of a shopping mall. The show, in some ways a smaller version of the Linux World conferences, is a shrine to the commercial possibilities of Linux.

But hey, it's a trade show, and that's what trade shows are all about. If you wander the show floor, you should expect to have someone try to sell you something, whether a stuffed Tux, a development toolkit for Linux, or a magazine.

One group working hard to pitch their product, and getting a large crowd at the booth, was PocketLinux, an application platform aimed at embedded systems such as PDAs, cellular phones, and digital TV sets. ALS attendees were drooling over PocketLinux installed on Compaq's iPAQ Pocket PC, the VTech Helio and other PDAs. Minimum system requirements for PocketLinux include a 75-megahertz processor and eight megabytes of RAM.

Tony Fader, PocketLinux's vice president for marketing, was busy handing out T-shirts Thursday, and sticking little fuzzy penguins with sticky feet on people's shoulders. In between dealing with customers oohing and ahhing over the half dozen PDAs in the booth, Fader explained that PocketLinux works with Kaffe, an Open Source Java-compliant programming platform, and XML to run on PDAs and other "small resource-constrained devices."

It should be noted here that you can download PocketLinux for free. The company was selling its product on handhelds at ALS.

The iPAQs at the PocketLinux booth included applications to play music files, to check email, to store addresses, and to write on a notepad. The speakers aren't great, of course, but you can play MP3s.

PocketLinux's goal is to provide Linux for all kinds of emerging markets, from powering cell phones to home appliances that could give users reports on their performance. Ean Schuessler, with the PocketLinux partner Brainfood.com, gave the example of home heater, which because of PocketLinux's use of device-networking standard XML, can than give a report on how its functioning to your handheld or desktop computer.

"The same XML infrastructure we use on the handheld is virtually the same XML standard we're running on a server," Schuessler said. "PocketLinux is scalable -- it'll go small and it'll go big."

Also at ALS, Epitera announced AbsoluteX, a new Open Source development toolkit based on C++. Booth workers were demonstrating AbsoluteX, and the company plans a full release later in the year. Epitera is calling AbsoluteX "Linux with a twist," and the company says it's the answer to existing toolkits for the X-Window platforms that are complex and hard to manipulate.


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